A Celebration of OUR Children Rising!
By Eric Steckel | June 11, 2019
June 1st was pretty special!
We want to take a moment to thank all of you who contributed to our celebration of Children Rising. We could not have done it without your immense volunteer support and participation.
As we spent the last week or so catching our breath and reflecting on another wonderful Hope for Children Now Gala, we were reminded that the best way for us to celebrate OUR children rising is to come together, break bread and share stories of success.
The Hope for Children Now Gala is so much more than a fundraiser. It is a time for us to reconnect with friends, families, students and community partners. We are reminded that it truly takes a broad network of individuals and local organizations – churches, businesses, partner agencies and government – to come together to nurture and equip vulnerable children and youth to rise above the challenges they face in school and in life.
It was wonderful to connect with our church leaders, a couple of whom participated in our program. We thank Pastor Tom Elson, Mission Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, who opened our program with a touching invocation. We also thank Pastor Bernard Emerson, Lead Pastor at Tapestry Church, who sent us out into the evening with a closing blessing that had us buzzing with optimism.
“None of us got to where we are on our own. It was the result of others coming alongside us.” – Jonathan Mayes, Children Rising Chairman of Board of Directors
Jonathan Mayes, the chairman of our board of directors and Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at Albertsons Companies, touched everyone in the room with a timely reminder that none of us got to where we are on our own. It was the result of others coming alongside us. Jonathan owes a debt of gratitude to a couple of key influences when he was a grade-school student. Because of them, he visualized – and achieved – a rewarding career as an attorney, something he never dreamed of. His challenge to all of us was to open our hearts and come alongside a vulnerable child, each in our own way.
We got to meet students like Jordan White and our four other Eddie College Scholarship award winners – Moises Gomez, Nicholas Lu, Hadiya Williams-Cain and Christine Zhou. Jordan, who experienced the trauma of overt racism in school, persevered and excelled in school. She shared how CareerBridge was there to give her a boost of confidence and be part of her healing experience. She looks forward to starting at Prairie View A&M next Fall on a full academic scholarship.
We also met Brooklyn, a second-grade Path2Math student struggling with basic math concepts, and the entire team who were in her corner – her teacher, Ms. Lillie Manning, her tutor, Mr. Paul Rathkamp, and her parents, Brandie and Greg Morton, and Michelle Hutcherson, our assistant director of the Path2Math program. Over the course of the school year, Brooklyn met with “Mr. Paul” week in and week out. As a result of her efforts, she developed math “literacy” in the second grade and is now ready to move on to the third grade. To honor Brooklyn and the significant progress she made this year, we presented her with a very special Certificate of Achievement.
Of course, we raised money!
Our first-ever silent auction kicked things off, as folks bid on artwork, vacation packages and more. That was followed by our annual raffle drawing – round-trip tickets from Alaska Airlines – for anywhere that Alaska flies in the U.S. and Mexico! The lucky winners were Tess and Michael DeLaSalle, a Path2Math tutor. Finally, our live auction and fund-a-need, led by muli-talented MC, auctioneer and Succeeding by Reading tutor Jim MacIlvaine, got folks’ hands in the air. The highlight was the week-long stay in an Italian villa, which five people snapped up!
Thanks to you, we reached both our attendance goal AND our fundraising goal, which were significant increases over last year. Both milestones were crucial to reach as we continue to implement our strategic initiative to nurture and equip many more vulnerable children to rise above the challenges they face. However, it’s not too late to help us carry the excitement and enthusiasm forward!
Your donation this week will help more vulnerable children rise above the challenges they face in the upcoming school year.
As you can tell, we are all excited and eager to meet our ambitious goals. Thank you for being a part of our community. Because as Randy Roth was fond of saying, it’s all “For the children.”
PS: Check out ALL the photos from the Gala!
YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child rise above. Let’s talk!